Specimen angling how and where to start

Specimen angling how and where to start

The most frequently ask question is how and where to start specimen angling.

And for so many anglers wanting to start specimen angling this is where it all becomes a bit of a nightmare. With so many articles and DVD’s out in the market on specimen angling it’s no wonder that the newbie to the sport finds himself in a bit of a dilemma trying to get started. My first advice is find a tackle store that knows enough about the facet and keeps a good range of specimen angling equipment. As mentioned before there are but a few tackle stores in SA that have the right approach to getting the new angler equipped and knowledgeable to start his journey with specimen angling. Unfortunately many tackle stores keep the specimen gear and rig bits but they don’t have enough know how to be able to sell and show the correct methods and ways to use these items. All is not lost however and with the internet and a quick phone call to the right people you will soon find that it’s not all doom and gloom. Tackle stores like All Out Angling in Centurion are specialist in the specimen facet and are always willing to help any new anglers; they will go the extra mile to get you up to speed. Other stores like African Gold in Roodepoort, Pro fishing in Lynnewood, Tackle Tart in Cape Town are but a few other stores that do the same. Speak to anglers that do specimen angling, these anglers will be able to advise and caution you on the does and don’ts when you start off.  Take your time to find the right information before you start spending money.

It’s important to note that whatever gear you have at present can more than likely still be used and that as you get into the facet you will adapt your gear to the sport and the waters that you intend to fish. However there are some items that are a must and those are the fish care items like a proper unhooking matt and a large soft net ,is an absolute must when you start. Also keep in mind that due to a wider choice of brands in the stores it’s not necessary to overspend on gear and for a new angler there are great in expensive products that will get you fishing without breaking the bank. In the facet of specimen angling there are the must have items and then off course the nice to have items, the later is not your concern in the beginning. You will find as you go along that all specimen anglers have a very similar method and array off gear and the anglers will have much to say about quality and effectiveness with regards to both gear and methods.

My advice is keep it simple and spend your hard earned money on the things that matter, those things that will achieve results and make your specimen fishing an enjoyable sport. One needs to understand that specimen angling is an A-Z system, which starts with understanding the basic principles and then moving on from there. Without the basics you will be lost and more than likely find it far too complicated to even begin. When in fact it’s not complicated at all but rather a system of angling were all the rig bits and gear fit together to do a specific type of angling and with the right basics in place delivers fantastic results and in most cases becomes an addictive facet which very few anglers can ever go back to the way they use to fish. First off knowledge is power and for you to understand specimen angling you need to understand big carp feeding habits and its habitat. This will put you ahead in the game and will become invaluable as you grow in the sport. Lots of what i knew about carp and their habits has found a new meaning over the last fifteen years.

Specimen angler’s fish for the biggest possible carp in a body of water and this is why it’s imperative to understand carp habits. Keep in mind that specimen angling is not always about just catching the biggest fish but also achieving success by catching carp of all sizes and perfecting the method. Our waters hold huge numbers of smaller carp and to get to the bigger fish you have to fish through the smaller fish by using specific methods of finding areas within a lake were the big carp prefer to feed and hang around the safety of structure. Where in Europe the lakes have far less smaller fish, this due to fish management where the smaller fish are removed leaving only the big ones to feed on the available food source and enabling them to grow much bigger. One thing is for sure and that through fishing this facet your quality of fish far exceeds the quantity of fish you catch, also dependant on your choice of water and weather the water in question holds bigger species of carp. This in its own is a defining factor to getting bigger fish. I’m sure most would agree that if water has the reputation for only delivering smaller carp it would be useless trying to fish it when you intend fishing for the biggies. Most of our waters public and private have big carp in them but there are more waters with small carp than good numbers of big carp. So choosing venues that have a better ratio of bigger fish would be the sensible starting point. Through the years I’ve also come to notice that anglers tend to jump from lake to lake and don’t spend enough time fishing one water long enough to find all the possibilities of that specific water. My advice choose a water and find out as much about the lake as you can, here the fishing forums and specimen anglers will reveal good waters to start off on. Lakes like Bass O Mania, Rushmere, Rietvlei and bigger lakes like Tzaneen, Buffelspoort, Doorndraai and many more are key specimen venues that deliver fantastic numbers of fish over 10 and 20 kg.

I have seen brilliant results achieved by new anglers in a very short period of time. A few of my  friends have only been practising the facet for less than three years and through making sure they follow the basics and studying waters and carp habits have achieved good catches. Some of these anglers have even taken part in world class events like the qualifiers for the World Carp Classic and on provincial level. But competitive specimen angling is not for everyone and for most of the anglers out there the greatest challenge lies in being able to catch big carp on a regular basis.

Now once you have all the necessary specimen gear and rig bits shorted out, then you need to understand the bait and baiting side of the specimen angling. There seems to be mis perception about specimen bait from most carp anglers who think that the boilies and pellets that are used are wonder baits and that by using them you will automatically catch big fish. This is not the case and its  understanding what carp feed on that these baits were developed. But to be clear on the matter of baits used by specimen anglers it needs to be said that there are many types of baits used and not just boilies. The facet allows for all kinds of bait to be placed on a hair rig from maize, maples, hemp seed,maggots,mussels to only name a few, the list is endless. As long as the item is something a carp would eat it can be used as bait. Even though we have so many baits to choose from you will find that most anglers stick to the basic baits, those that through trial and error have proven to be big carp catchers. Generally carp eat just about anything they come across, but the bigger they get the more food specific they become. That’s why the big old boys reach sizes of close to 80 pounds and these big fish are very hard to catch on just any old bait.

From all the articles and DVD’s and time spent studying carp  over the years it became very clear that big carp are protein feeders and anything with good protein content is the number one bait to have in your bait bag. I’ve seen carp feed on bass fry and on small crabs, fresh water mussels and many species found in their habitat. Hence the development of the boilie and what was at first a way to keep the nuisance species at bay has become one of the baits responsible for some of the biggest carp caught in the world. Bait companies such as Dynamite, Mainline, Nash and many more have spent a great deal of time and effort developing carp baits that not just catch carp but keep on catching carp. And with these high nutrition baits being carp growers we now hear of carp all over the world reaching record weights. So not only do they allow the specimen angler to catch good carp but also those same baits are productive food sources for carp and maintain good weights and healthy fish.

If you want to catch big carp then specimen carp fishing is the way to go. Be warned once this bug bites your will be hooked and your carp angling will never be the same again. For those anglers wanting to know more about the specimen facet feel free to contact All Out Angling on 012 6534294 in Centurion for all your fishing equipment needs.

Specimen Carp Angling in South Africa

Specimen Carp Angling in South Africa.

The facet of specimen carp angling is one of the fastest growing fresh water angling facets in South Africa.  It originated in Europe in 1970 were the don of the sport Fred Wilton came up with the idea of creating a high protein paste bait that was round and hard on the outside and larger than normal baits. The reason for this invention and shift in conventional baiting was to prevent baits being picked up by smaller nuisance species like tench and bream and to be able to have bait that could be left in the water for greater periods of time without the worry that it would need to be checked every so often. The real breakthrough was the invention of the hair rig which allowed the angler to place any type of bait on a hair instead of on the hook itself. The hair rig made for far better bait presentation and allowed the hook bait to move freely and naturally. Due to the bait not being placed on the hook its hook up ratio was far greater and once a carp sucked up bait and blew it back out the hook penetrated the mouth area with ease.

Today there are endless bait combinations that get fished on the hair rig. The methods and rigs for specimen carp fishing have been improved over the years but the basics of the sport will always remain the same.

But it’s only in the last couple of years that our tackle stores have seen a greater influx of specimen fishing gear and baits on the shelves. Back in the early 80’s it was a different story. There were but only a hand full of anglers doing specimen fishing in our country. Anglers in our country have mostly been brought up on the conventional way of fishing taught to us by our fathers and grand fathers. Our ways and methods were nowhere near as technical and involved as those of our European counter parts. And it’s pretty clear why this is the case; carp fishing in other countries is a well organized business. The establishment of fisheries across Europe had created specialised fishing venues for all kinds of carp fishing. The lakes all across Europe are managed and carp are grown in lakes to attain size, these fish are then sold to venues and anglers pay top dollar to either be part of the syndicated lakes or fish these lakes as day visitors. The lakes are under strict rule and regulations with permanent fishery managers, guides and ground keepers that manage these waters full time. There is great pride in having a famous fishery and even more so lakes with record size carp are the ones that draw the big names in the sport making it a popular establishment.

But down south we don’t have this, we have something better. Wild waters with endless opportunities to catch huge carp that have never seen an anglers bait. Our waters are vast with dams like Buffelspoort, Fanie Botha, Doorndraai and many more delivering stunning carp with many fish being landed on the latest specimen fishing methods. Our waters are recognized by overseas anglers as the ultimate fishing destination for big carp.

Due to the facet of specimen carp angling being very new to our country we have a long way to go before we will ever reach a point where we have managed waters. And by this I mean not someone at the gate asking for an entry fee but waters that have rules and regulations and that are taken care of. There are a few private owners of waters that have taken up the challenge and that have made their lakes into dedicated specimen carp fishing venues, Rushmere, Donaldson top lake, Bass O Mania are a few places that come to mind. These venues have created waters with stunning big fish and through strict rule and regulation are making sure that the carp and environment around the waters are protected and managed properly. They have also seen the value in how specimen fishing can be turned into a business when managed. Unfortunately we have other issues with regards to the general mind set of our anglers in South Africa where through ignorance we cause damage not only to our waters but also the species that live in them. It would be wrong to label all anglers as part of the catch and kill brigade, but that’s what we were taught growing up. I’m sure most of us can admit to having keep nets full of fish at one stage or another. Then there is the issue of pollution in our country with daily reports of dams and rivers being polluted by industry, minning and over population. And last but not least carp in our country is seen as an alien species and there has been great debate over the last few years about the plan to exterminate carp from all our waters. So looking at all these issues it’s clear that we still have a long way to go.

However even though there are many things not quite right with our waters and our ways one thing is for sure and that is that through the growth of specimen carp fishing in South Africa the mind set of anglers will change only because specimen carp fishing has principals that ensure that we as specimen anglers protect and preserve both fish and environment.

More and more conventional anglers are going over to the specimen facet. And over the past few years we have seen the competitive fresh water anglers making fish safety a part of their angling principal. Provincial angling clubs have tabled rules that prevent damage to fish and this in its own has changed the mind set of not just the older anglers but the younger generation of anglers. As the saying goes” knowledge is power” and if we can teach the young anglers to take care then they will be the better anglers of tomorrow.

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